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Slow and steady wins the race. That's the attitude long-term investors should have, and it's weeks like this that build long-term profits with solid companies. There weren't any big fireworks this week and volatility actually fell to nearly a five-year low as fear melts away from the market. By the time the week was over, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) had quietly gained 1.20% and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) was up 0.95%.
Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) continued its wild swings and led the Dow with a 5.9% gain this week. There were reports out this week that buyers are interested in the company's Autonomy and EDS units, two acquisitions that haven't worked out well for investors. HP denied the rumors, and it appears no deal is imminent, but there are still rumors swirling about a potential breakup. HP is up more than 50% from its 52-week low, but betting on a recovery in any of HP's businesses is still a big risk at this point.
General Electric (NYSE: GE ) was the second biggest winner this week, jumping 4.3% on earnings news. The company reported an 8% increase in earnings to $4 billion for the fourth quarter, and aviation and health care looked particularly strong. GE has been restructuring its business to be less reliant on GE Capital for earnings, and it looks like the transition is going quite well for the moment.
Disney (NYSE: DIS ) rounds out the top three with a 3.5% bump this week. The company signed a deal with AT&T to distribute Disney content on U-Verse, which is seen as a way for both companies to grow their reach. Disney is clearly leveraging the success of its studios and media franchises to the benefit of investors, and no matter how distribution changes in the years to come, Disney will be a big winner.
It's easy to forget that Walt Disney is more than just the House of the Mouse. True, Disney amusement parks around the world hosted more than 121 million guests in 2011. But from its vast catalog of characters to its monster collection of media networks, much of Disney's allure for investors lies in its diversity, and The Motley Fool's new premium research report lays out the case for investing in Disney today. This report includes the key items investors must watch as well as the opportunities and threats the company faces going forward. We're also providing a full year of regular analyst updates as news develops, so don't miss out -- simply click here now to claim your copy today.